Last week, I wrote on how language and thinking are interconnected—that language affects the manner, the way, and the process of our thinking. So, obviously, I have been intrigued by time of late (pun intended, and a poor one at that).
Last week I completed Eugene Vodolazkin’s curious novel “Laurus.” It’s quite a tale: set in medieval Russia with sudden appearances of stories or objects that come from another time, and a main character who intermittently knows future events. In the story, two travelers, on the way to the Holy Land, are discussing time:
“I am going to tell you something strange. It seems ever more to me that there is no time. Everything on earth exists outside of time, otherwise how could I know about the future that has not occurred? I think time is given to us by the grace of God so we will not get mixed up, because a person’s consciousness cannot take in all events at once. We are locked up in time because of our weakness.”
And later in their conversation, “We simply need to remember that only the material world needs time.”
What an intriguing idea: only the material world needs time! Such seems true. For God and all his created spiritual beings seem unbounded by time. Yet we are not. Or at least, not yet.
And I’ve never really thought about time being “necessary because of our weakness.” How I’ve longed for treasured moments to linger, for the hours of sweetness of my children’s play to last forever. For idyllic days to be more than a memory. For the energy of youth to be eternal, for the wisdom of older years to remain always vivid.
But maybe time is indeed given because of weakness. Maybe my natural body simply cannot cope with the complexity and the drama and the brightness of all events being an eternal now. This is no doubt true.
What happens when the promised General Resurrection of all peoples comes to pass, when believers are given “spiritual bodies”—a great mystery if there ever was one? Is this how our lives will be eternal? Because our bodies will be somehow spiritual, we are no longer weak and are therefore free of time?
And when I remember the promise that my body will change from a natural one to a spiritual body, I am nearly overwhelmed. Maybe I should be entirely overwhelmed: stunned at the goodness and greatness of God. Unlocked from time, unbound from its restrictions and decay, and enjoying a level of freedom I cannot imagine.